What Is Welsh Culture

10 Customs Only The Welsh Can Understand

Lovespoon image courtesy of Hayley Finn/Flickr If you’re planning a trip to Wales, there are several traditions you should be aware of in order to fully appreciate the culture. In addition, we mention the most common blunders, such as referring to them as “British. That’s not the type of spoon I’m talking about. This historical ritual, which is becoming less common nowadays, involves presenting your girlfriend a wooden ‘lovespoon’ as a mark of your affection. Lovespoons are now available for purchase at gift stores, and they are likely to be decorated with symbols such as hearts, anchors, horseshoes, and knots.

Lovespoon|Photo courtesy of Hayley Finn/ Flickr However, outsiders sometimes fail to recognize Wales as an unique nation from England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

While someone from England is unlikely to protest to being referred to be British, a Welsh person is more likely to do so, because Britishness is frequently confused with Englishness in popular culture.

This brings us neatly to the subject of this ritual.

Rugby is Wales’ national sport, a way of life, and a game for everyone, rather than just the rich and famous as it is in other parts of the world.

“Look what these bastards have done to Wales,” said player Phil Bennett during his famed pre-game pep talk: “Look what these bastards have done to Wales.” They’ve taken our coal, our water, and our steel, among other things.

What exactly did they provide us?

It is the English who have exploited us, raped us, manipulated us, and punished us – and it is the English who you will be playing against this afternoon.” The Welsh are emotional people, and there is no place where it is considered more normal, even appropriate, to express one’s feelings than at a rugby match.

  1. You won’t be alone in feeling this way.
  2. Rugby World Cup 2011|
  3. Schoolchildren, in particular, get into the atmosphere by donning traditional garb, such as tall black hats, red cloaks, striped flannel, and shawls, and dressing up as characters from the story.
  4. Welsh traditional dress|Photo courtesy of Flickr Forget about the Irish; it’s the Welsh who are the most enthusiastic drinkers.
  5. Cardiff has been referred to as the “binge drinking capital of Europe” on numerous occasions, and a survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics last year revealed that Wales has the highest proportion of binge drinkers of any region in the United Kingdom.
  6. Roughly translated, rarebit is a typical Welsh delicacy that is simply cheese on bread.
  7. Welsh rarebit|Photo courtesy of Jeremy Keith/Wikimedia It is possible that these words will all sound exactly the same if you live in a heavily accented area of the nation.

Your sheep jokes have gotten to the point that the Welsh are fed up with them.

It also rains a lot, and Wales is a lush and hilly terrain that is ideally adapted for sheep grazing.

Yes, sheep may cause problems by wandering into railroad lines or onto people’s lawns, causing traffic to snarl and even finding their way onto roofs!

Wales is a place where it rains so frequently that it makes no difference to people’s day-to-day life.

A theme park will be packed with people queuing for rides in the rain, riding their bicycles to work in the pouring rain, and pushing their children on a swing.

Getting an umbrella should not be too difficult if you happen to be in Wales during a rain. You might just inquire in a coffee shop or pub if they have one in their lost property; they’ll most likely have around 20 and will be pleased to give you one if they have one.

Discover Wales: our rich history, culture, heritage, and the Wales of today

When is the last time you stood on top of a kilometer-high mountain with panoramic views of four different countries, kayaked through Atlantic surf with only curious seals for company, and savoured a Michelin-starred feast of a supper before strolling home under a clear, starry sky?

Croesoi Gymru. Welcome to Wales.

Welcome to Wales, a nation located on the southwestern tip of the United Kingdom. A long history, a beautiful landscape, and a very cool flag distinguish us from other countries. Remember the one with the red dragon on it? That’s the one. We’re also a nice bunch of folks that like extending a warm welcome to others. Our hospitality is legendary – whenever Wales appears in travel writers’ round-ups of the hottest destinations, our hospitality is praised as much as our breathtaking scenery. For those who want to remain longer, there is the opportunity to achieve an exceptional work-life balance while being part of a vibrant community with an abundance of activities to keep them occupied in their spare time.

  • We speak a poetic language that is distinct from English and a great deal older than English.
  • The Welsh language will be used on this website, but everything will be translated into English so that you can begin to appreciate the poetic joy of the Welsh language.
  • Both a part of the United Kingdom and a sovereign country in our own right, we have a devolved government and a Welsh Parliament that is responsible for making our own legislation.
  • A National Park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been designated for approximately a quarter of Wales, encompassing everything from the mountains to the sea.
  • As a result, we’re doing wonderful things for one another, for our country, and for the rest of the globe.
  • Doing the little acts that make a huge impact, according to St David, Wales’ patron saint, was important to the saint.
  • Addois is a Welsh word that literally translates as “promise.” To make a promise.

We are encouraging people to make an emotional investment in Wales and to demonstrate that they care as well, and that we will all be doing our part to care for ourselves and for others around us.

If you are considering international group travel again, we encourage you to visit ourTravel TradeandBusiness Eventswebsites for additional information and support.

Welsh culture is centered on the expression of one’s individuality via art.

As a result, they have spread the name of Wales throughout the world.

The list of available artists does not stop there.

Wales is serious about doing business – and innovation has a role to play there, too.

Ball bearings, the microphone, deep-space photography, and the hydrogen fuel cell are just a few of the Welsh innovations — not to mention the “packet switching” idea that made the internet possible, and even the equals sign in mathematics.

One of the reasons that businesses relocate to Wales in order to grow and realize their potential is the ability to tap into this talent pool.

Furthermore, sustainability is at the top of the corporate agenda.

Our economic policies encourage and reward environmentally friendly behavior, and we have set ambitious goals for decreasing waste and reducing the carbon footprint of the manufacturing industry.

It is spoken by more than half a million people, is taught in schools, and is celebrated at festivals such as the eisteddfodau, which are the pinnacle of Wales’ cultural season.

A vibrant music scene exists, and Welsh-language films and television shows are having an impact far beyond our borders and beyond our borders.

It is something that must be experienced and shared.

The history of the region is rich and varied.

All of these things are sources of intense pride.

Some, such as Criccieth and Carreg Cennen, were founded by local Welsh lords, while others, such as Edward I’s magnificent “iron ring” of Beaumaris, Harlech, Caernarfon, and Conwy, were created by occupying armies during the reign of Edward I.

The Victorian Castell Coch, with its fairy-tale cone turrets, is arguably the most impressive structure in the area.

For St David’s Day, which is celebrated on the first of March, the entire country joins together, with youngsters wearing in patriotic costumes or donning the red jerseys of our sports teams.

St Dwynwen, our patron saint of loves, celebrates her feast day on January 25, which is about three weeks earlier than ours.

One example is the sense of anticipation for the headline act at the Green Man Festival, or in the build-up to a Six Nations rugby match at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, where you can see it in action.

And, at the risk of sounding a bit conceited, we’ve been enjoying a particularly prosperous period of athletic achievement recently.

Whether you’re a resident or just passing through, Wales has a way of getting under your skin.

The fact that we’re a contemporary nation with an old heart defines us as individuals.

Welsh expats have travelled to — and established themselves in — nearly every country on the planet over the course of their lives.

We consider ourselves to be members of the larger international community as well, and we are committed to becoming decent global citizens.

Countries with a forward-looking mindset, such as ours, have huge ideas that can make a genuine impact. So, thank you for visiting Wales. Croeso I Gymru, as we say in Wales, means “Cross of the Mountain.”

Welsh heritage & traditions

When it comes to the history of Wales, this is a proverb that should be remembered. We value the artifacts and antiques left by our ancestors, but it’s important to remember that they were once spanking new, and were frequently created with an eye toward the future. They may be found everywhere around us. Take the Vitalinus Stone, for example. A worn pillar may be found beside a walkway in the Nevern graveyard in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and it is worth exploring. It stands in the shade of an ancient yew tree, and it isn’t much more than shoulder-high in height.

  • The fact that this is the stone of Vitalinus is revealed by the presence of Roman characters, while incisions down the side of the stone spell out the same name in the unusual alphabet of Irish Ogham.
  • He lived at a time when Roman control was in decline, and Irish immigrants were filling in the gaps in Western Wales around the fifth century.
  • However, it hammers home the point that in Wales, heritage and tradition can be found everywhere you look.
  • These stories were meat and drink for the medievalcyfarwyddiaid (professional storytellers) of the day, and they have been recounted and retold over and over again since.
  • The most well-known of these stories is the one involving Arthur and Merlin.
  • Probably.
  • Nonetheless, if you look at a map of Wales and place a pin in each spot associated with King Arthur, it becomes clear that the monarch was quite active.
  • During your journey, you’d stop at no fewer than three lakes, each of which claims to be the location of King Arthur’s legendary magical sword, Excalibur.
  • Theoretically, Vitalinus was actually Arthur’s arch-enemy, Vortigern, which would explain why he was killed.
  • Even our emblems take time to disassemble.
  • What is a leek?
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There are a variety of common interpretations for this emblem, including the symbol on Arthur’s banner, an improvised manner for St David’s warriors to identify themselves on a muddy battlefield, and an age-old mistake between the Welshcenhinen(leek) andcenhinen pedr (cenhinen pedestal) (daffodil).

  • Welsh is spoken by around three-quarters of a million people globally and is the oldest language in the United Kingdom.
  • Approximately one-fifth of the country’s population can speak or use the language, with that percentage increasing to two-thirds among youngsters.
  • Much of Wales’s historical legacy may be touched and felt.
  • It is possible to find several that were erected for native princes, such as Dolbardarn, which is located near Llanberis in North Wales and was one of the strongholds of Prince Llywelyn the Great.
  • It had power over area captured by Norman knights and eventually became the birthplace of England’s first Tudor monarch, Henry VIII of England.
  • Harlech Castle was one of ten fortresses erected by England’s King Edward I to dominate the north-western part of the country.
  • However, in 1404 it was besieged by the army of the last Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndr, and for a brief period of time it served as his administrative headquarters.
  • Welsh history after the Romans, however, is just as fascinating, and it is waiting to be discovered both in the land as a whole and in our outstanding museums.

This small collection of tollhouses bear witness to a turbulent period in Welsh history when the construction of toll roads sparked widespread protest and insurrection, culminating in the infamous “Rebecca Riots,” in which men dressed as women shattered the despised tollhouses in the dead of night.

  1. Among the hundreds of structures that have been restored on the 100-acre site is a 1771 tollhouse from Aberystwyth, West Wales, which has been outfitted with a tariff listing the fees that people formerly had to pay in order to pass through.
  2. The remnants of our industrial past may be seen in a variety of settings.
  3. Blaenavon, located in the South Wales Valleys, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its industrial history.
  4. Back to Sir Clough, his masterwork, Portmeirion, has been transformed into a place that is both timeless and contemporary.

Although he began realizing his dream of creating a completely new Italianate village in 1925, it took him nearly 50 years to get everything just right. And today, what he built and lovingly decorated has become a treasured part of our shared cultural history, thanks to his efforts.

BBC – Wales – Culture in Wales

When it comes to the history of Wales, this is a proverb to keep in mind. Our past has left us many treasures and artifacts that we adore, but it’s important to remember that they were originally brand new and were frequently created with the intention of being preserved for future generations. – Everywhere we look, they’re still alive and well. The Vitalinus Stone is yours to keep! A worn pillar may be seen beside a walkway in the Nevern graveyard in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. It stands in the shade of an ancient yew tree, and it isn’t much more than shoulder-high.

  1. The name Vitalinus is revealed in Roman characters on the stone, and the name is also written in the unusual alphabet of Irish Ogham in incisions down the side.
  2. He lived at a time when Roman power was in decline, and Irish immigrants were flooding into West Wales to take advantage of the void.
  3. The fact that legacy and tradition are all around us in Wales, however, serves to emphasize this point further.
  4. It has been passed down orally and repeated over and over again by the medievalcyfarwyddiaid, or professional storytellers, since their inception.
  5. The story of Arthur and Merlin is the most well-known of all.
  6. Probably.
  7. It turns out, though, that King Arthur would have been a very busy ruler if you took a map of Wales and marked every spot associated with him.

There are no less than three lakes that claim to be the location of King Arthur’s legendary sword, Excalibur, along the road, which you would stop at on your journey.

Theoretically, Vitalinus was actually Arthur’s arch-enemy, Vortigern, which would explain why he was killed by him.

Unpicking even ouremblemstakes time.

what is he talking about?

Do you see something?

There are a variety of common interpretations for this emblem, including the symbol on Arthur’s banner, an impromptu manner for St David’s warriors to identify themselves on a muddy battlefield, and an age-old mistake between the Welshcenhinen(leek) andcenhinen pedr (cenhinen pederick) (daffodil).

  • A quarter of a million people speak Welsh throughout the globe, and it is the oldest language in Britain, having been spoken for almost 2,000 years.
  • An estimated fifth of the country’s population can speak or use the language, with that percentage increasing to nearly two-thirds of youngsters.
  • Many aspects of Wales’s cultural legacy may be touched and felt.
  • There are several that were erected for native princes, such as Dolbardarn, in Llanberis, North Wales, which was one of Prince Llywelyn the Great’s strongholds and is now a National Trust property.
  • Norman knights had taken over territory here, which eventually became the home to the first Tudor ruler of England, Henry VIII.
  • King Edward I of England commissioned the construction of Harlech Castle, one of ten such structures designed to dominate the north of Wales.
  • After being besieged by the army of Owain Glyndor, the Prince of Wales’s last son, the castle was briefly transformed into his seat of authority in 1404.
  • Welsh history after the Romans, however, is just as fascinating, and it is waiting to be discovered both around the nation and in our superb museums.

This small collection of tollhouses bear witness to a turbulent period in Welsh history when the construction of toll roads sparked widespread opposition and insurrection, culminating in the infamous “Rebecca Riots,” in which men dressed as women shattered the despised tollhouses in the dead of night.

  • All of the museum’s other displays span more than two millennia, including everything from a typical Anglesey Iron Age farmhouse to the Cardiff summer house of the Marquess of Bute, who was reportedly the richest man in the world during the 1860s.
  • Welsh coal, slate, copper, and steel were famous around the world for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • The Big Pit National Coal Museumprovides visitors with the opportunity to descend 300 feet underground with a real-life miner and witness firsthand the enormous effort that was necessary to supply the furnaces of Wales’ industrial revolution with coal.
  • In reality, it has been around for less than a century, and in certain cases much less.

His dream of creating a totally new Italianate hamlet began in 1925, but it took him over 50 years to perfect his vision of a perfect Italianate village. In the years thereafter, the structure he built and meticulously decorated has become a treasured part of our shared cultural legacy.

Traditions and folklore of Wales

A country steeped in tradition, Wales is a place to be. Even theMethodist revival of the 18th century, whose austere Puritanism exiled the ancient Celtic customs, was unable to completely eradicate all traces of their traditions from the world. Welsh speakers are responsible for keeping the old legends alive today. It is believed that there are 600,000 of them, and the number is growing. By the popularity of the Royal National Eisteddfod, a ceremonial assembly of singers, poets, and craftspeople, traditional Welsh culture has been preserved for future generations.

  • This resulted in a piece of wood known as a “Welsh Not” being tied around their necks as punishment for the crime they had committed.
  • Fagans, Glamorgan.
  • The carving of these spoons was reportedly promoted by the young lady’s father in order to keep the young man’s hands occupied while at school!
  • The Mabinogion contains what is perhaps the most important record of early myth, legend, folklore, and language in Wales, as well as the Welsh language itself.
  • Despite the fact that they were translated from a medieval text, the tales contain references to characters and events that occurred several centuries earlier, including mention of a revolting Roman Emperor and even a reference to the Arthurian myth.
  • The Romans were the first civilization to mine extensively for gold and lead.
  • Dolaucothi, near Pumpsaint, is the site of a Roman gold mine, which is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom.

There was a timber water-wheel that emptied the galleries, and a portion of it may be seen now in the National Museum in Cardiff.

Superstitions were prevalent in all coal mining areas in the past, and they were always taken seriously!

Miners refuse to begin any new work on a Friday, and pit-men in Wales have always avoided working in the mines on Good Friday.

A fragrant rose-like fragrance was discovered in 1890 in Morfa Colliery, which is located near Port Talbot.

On the 10th of March, half of the miners working the morning shift chose to stay at home.

The accident occurred on a Saturday.

When the explosion at Senghennydd Colliery in Glamorgan, which killed 400 workers, was reported, the ‘corpse birds’ were dubbed “corpse birds” because they were alleged to have been spotted before the disaster.

If a’squinting’ lady was encountered on the way to work, the miner would turn around and return home.

The women made an effort to ward off any bad luck as well. When lots were drawn for a position at the coal face, the miner’s wife would hang the fire-tongs from the mantle-piece and put the family cat in the unlit oven while the miner was away at work!

5 Welsh Traditions

A country rich in heritage, Wales is a must-see. Even theMethodist revival of the 18th century, whose austere Puritanism exiled the ancient Celtic customs, was unable to completely eradicate all traces of their traditions from the landscape. Welsh speakers are responsible for preserving the traditional legends today. It is believed that there are 600,000 of them, and the number is growing. A popular ceremonial gathering of singers, poets, and craftspeople, the Royal National Eisteddfod has helped to keep traditional Welsh culture alive for generations.

  1. If they did, they would be chastised by having a piece of wood known as a ‘Welsh Not’ placed around their neck as punishment.
  2. Fagans, Glamorgan.
  3. In addition to using old Celtic motifs on the spoons, symbols of affection, devotion, and religion have been included into the design.
  4. Originally composed of eleven stories taken from medieval Welsh manuscripts, the Mabinogion includes tales of pre-Christian Celtic mythology and customs as well as tales of medieval Welsh history.
  5. For many years, mining was the primary source of income in Wales, and it is connected with several superstitions and customs.
  6. As a result of its location near Cwmystwth, a big lead mine was developed there, as did a silver mine in the 18th century.
  7. A combination of open-cast mining and subterranean tunnels allowed for the extraction of gold from the ore near the surface.
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Mines for underground coal were first discovered in Wales more than four hundred years ago.

Friday is a day of ill fortune in the province of Wales.

1890 mining disaster at Morfa Colliery A sweet rose-like fragrance was discovered in 1890 at Morfa Colliery, near Port Talbot.

This past Tuesday, half of the morning shift mine workers opted to stay at home.

Unforeseeable tragedy was prophesied by the appearance of robins, pigeons, and doves circling the pit’s entrance.

A great deal of effort was put into avoiding bad luck.

Also attempting to stave off bad luck were the ladies of the tribe. When lots were drawn for a position at the coal face, the miner’s wife would hang the fire-tongs from the mantlepiece and place the family cat in the unlit oven while the miner was away at work.

‘Dydd gwyl Dewi Sant hapus’

This time of year, in particular, is very memorable for the Welsh population. St David’s Day, also known as Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant, is celebrated on the first of March. David is the patron saint of Wales, and he is believed to be the grandson of the monarch of Ceredigion. He lived in the 6th century and was a bishop. David is credited with introducing Christianity in Wales, and he is also linked with studying and showing generosity to others in his life. St David’s Day is a day when school pupils are urged to emulate David’s compassion by performing their own modest acts of kindness, such as helping to wash the dishes or tidying their own rooms.

  1. Probably one of the most well-known occurred in Llandewi Brefi, in mid-Wales, when a little hill grew on the location where he was preaching.
  2. An other miracle, which is a little more grisly, is the miracle of the corpse-candles.
  3. The inhabitants of Wales ‘would be alerted when and where the death would be expected by the low light of strange tapers,’ according to legend.
  4. The celebration of St David’s Day takes place today in cities, villages, and schools across Wales, with parades in traditional costume and the donning of Wales’ national emblems: the daffodil (for females) and the leek (for men) (for males).

Love spoons, ‘llwy caru’

It is made of wood, and the elaborate decorations etched onto it are rather beautiful. All of the designs have specific significance and are intended to communicate a message to the person who receives them. Traditionally, love spoons were carved by young men and given to the ladies they cherished as a mark of their feelings for the woman they cherished. The wooden spoons also indicated that they were skillful and capable with their hands, in other words, that they would be good husbands! A variety of carvings convey diverse meanings – for example, bells represent weddings and anniversaries, crosses represent religion, hearts represent love, and so on.

Red dragon, ‘y draig goch’

The national flag that we identify with Wales was not unfurled until 1959, according to official records. Because of an Arthurian tale, the dragon was created — Merlin had a vision of a red dragon (the Welsh) fighting against a white dragon (the English) (the Saxons). Naturally, the red dragon was victorious and drove the intruders from our lands, as expected.

Symbolically, the colors green and white represent the House of Tudor, a 15th century Welsh nobleman whose descendants went on to become rulers of England – yep, Henry VIII was descended from Welsh forefathers and foremothers!

Leeks, ‘cennyn’, and daffodils, ‘cenhinen pedr’

The relationship between leeks and Wales is a little murky, and no one is entirely certain how they came to be our national vegetable. Welsh soldiers would wear a leek to distinguish themselves from their opponents on the battlefield, according to the most commonly accepted explanation. Cadwaladr, king of Gywnedd in the 7th century, may have ordered his men to wear leeks in battle, and Shakespeare mentions it in his play Henry V: “the Welshmen did good service in agarden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in theirMonmouth caps; which, your majesty knows, to thishour is an honourable badge of the service; and I believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leekupon Saint T Even stranger is the story of how daffodils came to be regarded as a national symbol of Wales.

Because the Welsh words for leek and daffodil (cennyn) are extremely similar, it’s possible that someone got them mixed up at some point in the translation process.

Welsh cakes, ‘pice ar y maen’, and bara brith

Though Wales is known for its rich culinary heritage, the country is also known for having a slight obsession with sweets. This means that two of our most beloved national specialities, Welsh cakes and bara brith, are both sweet sweets, which should come as no surprise. Welsh cakes, despite their name, are more like a cross between a cake and a scone, and they are traditionally baked on a hot griddle or on a hot stone. Bara brith, which literally translates as’speckled bread,’ is a spiced fruit bread with a tea flavoring that is baked in the oven.

Welsh cakes and bara brith are now popular tea-time treats in Wales, and can be found on the menus of many tea rooms (if you’re feeling peckish, check out this blog post on the finest locations to enjoy afternoon tea in Wales).


Wales is also a nation of artists, specializing in poetry, storytelling, music, and theatrics, among other things, in the arts. Simply said, the arts are a part of our genetic makeup! Cardiff is home to some of the world’s most talented musicians and performers: Catatonia, the Stereophonics, Dame Shirley Bassey, Manic Street Preachers, and, of course, Welsh singer-songwriter Tom Jones. And that’s not even counting A-listers from Hollywood like Luke Evans, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ioan Gruffydd, and Iwan Rheon.

This is also not a new fad.

Our eisteddfods are diverse, ranging from those devoted to young people (such as the Urdd Eistedffod) to those that invite participants from all over the world (such as the International Eisteddfod) (held annually inLlangollen).

The festival takes place every year in a different location in North and South Wales, and it is the largest competitive music and poetry festival in Europe.

Portmeirion, Wales, and Welsh cakes images courtesy of: Crown copyright (2011) Visit Wales, all rights reserved; daffodils at Portmeirion, Wales; and Welsh cakes, Wales.

A brief history of Wales: the resilient nation

The Welsh people voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum on whether to remain in the EU. This was a narrow victory for the Leave campaign. Many people who believed that Welsh politics and society were more progressive than their counterparts in England were taken by surprise by the Brexit decision. Indeed, it called into question the entire notion that Wales was distinct from England. Having faith in Wales as a left-wing society has served as a form of compensation for many people who are concerned about the fragility of Welsh identity.

In addition to being a clear indicator that Wales and England have distinct cultures, the Welsh language is only spoken by about one-fifth of the country’s population.

Despite the fact that support for Welsh independence looks to be rising, it remains a minority viewpoint.

In spite of this, considering the nation’s history, the fact that Welsh identity still exists at all is a remarkable achievement in many respects.

The roots of Wales

It is the political and cultural developments brought about by the establishment of what has come to be known as Anglo-Saxon England that are at the heart of the Welsh nation’s origins. Wales was established from the people of the western peninsula that had not been swallowed by the emergence of Anglo-Saxon culture and polities during the preceding millennium. Except for a few brief years in the 11th century, Wales has never been an unique political entity with its own identity and government.

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As a result of these divides, Wales became increasingly vulnerable, and throughout the next two centuries following the Norman invasion of England, Welsh territory was lost to both the English crown and individual lords. Welsh independence was finally ended in 1282–3, when Edward I became tired of the continual rebellions against English power and influence in the country. Following his military triumph, he set about constructing castles and colonial towns in which the Welsh were, at least in principle, barred from residing.

There was no intention to eradicate the Welsh language, but Wales had become a colony that was governed and exploited for the benefit of the English.

(Image courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images) ) Even while some people grew used to their new circumstances, there was lingering bitterness, particularly during times of economic distress, when laws discriminating against the Welsh were more strictly enforced.

As a result of the devastation it wrought, some measure of reconciliation was achieved on both sides; nonetheless, the racial laws that denied Welshmen some legal rights remained in place, even though they were not usually pursued.

Equality or assimilation?

Despite the fact that the Welsh were considered inferior to the English, the Welsh and English gentry intermarried. In 1485, Henry Tudor, a result of this cross-border intertwining, ascended to the throne of England, and for the first time in history, the monarch of England was a person of Welsh descent. It appeared that the Welsh, who considered themselves to be the original Britons, had reclaimed their heritage and reclaimed control of the lands that had been lost to the Saxons centuries before.

He was the son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond.

) Although the Welsh have restored some respect, they continue to be discriminated against under the law.

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The acts were warmly received in Wales because of the equality they provided, but they were also an act of annexation and assimilation that would have far-reaching effects for the country for decades to come.

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Due to the fact that the majority of its inhabitants spoke Welsh until the end of the nineteenth century, Wales retained its cultural distinctiveness. In spite of the state’s efforts to prevent Welsh from being spoken, the language has persisted and even grown in prominence as a result of its sponsorship of a Welsh-language translation of the Bible, which was intended to strengthen Protestantism in Wales. Yet, English was the language of power and administration, so anybody who wanted to advance in life had no choice but to learn it.

The Welsh language was similarly shielded from extinction by the forces of nature.

Prior to the development of railroads in the nineteenth century, much of Wales was isolated from the rest of the country, which contributed to the survival of the Welsh language and, consequently, the preservation of Welsh identity.

(Image courtesy of RDImages/Epics/Getty Images) )

Industrial invigoration

Prior to the late 18th century, Wales was seen as a backwater by the English, but the Industrial Revolution transformed this perception of the country. Wales became into one of the world’s most significant industrial regions as a result of its iron and coal industries.

With the money gained as a result of this, as well as the larger European drive for national rebirth, Welsh identity was revitalized. Middle-class people went out to construct a nation, founding national media and organizations as well as cultural festivals and athletic squads.

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Religion had an essential role in the resurgence of Welsh identity as well. The majority of individuals were Nonconformists rather than Anglicans, and this was interpreted as more proof that Wales and England were fundamentally different places to live. A rich and self-assured Wales, which was also pleased to be a member of the British Empire, arose in the nineteenth century. Imperial power was critical to Welsh industrial prosperity, and the great majority of the Welsh populace considered their identity as intertwined with that of the rest of the United Kingdom.

At initially, the movement of people from the countryside to the emerging industrial zones helped to strengthen Welsh culture in those areas, but with time, industrial communities created their own lively cultures that were centered on class politics and popular hobbies.

Because of migration from England and the cultural capital associated with speaking English, industrial and rural Wales began to appear to have distinct cultures, particularly when the Welsh language in urban populations was undercut by the English language.

According to Martin Johnes, industrialization produced a cultural gulf in Wales that had never existed before.

The survival of Welsh identity

Also crucial in the resurgence of Welsh identity was the role played by religious beliefs and practices. In Wales, Nonconformists outnumbered Anglicans by a wide margin, and this was interpreted as more proof of the differences between Wales and England. Despite the fact that this new Wales was rich and self-assured, it was nevertheless pleased to be a member of the British Empire. British imperial power was critical to Welsh industrial prosperity, and the great majority of the Welsh community considered their identity as inextricably bound up with their country’s national identity.

As people relocated to new industrial areas from rural areas, Welsh culture was first strengthened in those areas, but over time, industrial communities created their own lively cultures, anchored in class politics and popular hobbies.

Because of migration from England and the cultural capital associated with speaking English, industrial and rural Wales began to appear to have distinct cultures, especially when the Welsh language in urban populations was weakened by the cultural capital connected with speaking English.

Workers at a coal mine in Cardiff, around 1910. According to Martin Johnes, industrialization caused a cultural rift in Wales that had not before existed. Image courtesy of Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

  • The 50th anniversary of Charles, The Prince of Wales’ investiture at Caernarfon Castle in 1969
  • “The anglocentric perspective of British history that we have is untenable,” Misha Glenny asserts.

The survival of Welsh identity, on the other hand, was never just the responsibility of the elite. There is evidence of widespread pride in the Welsh language, yet this does not rule out the possibility of individuals wanting to communicate in English as well. Even history itself played a role in ensuring the survival of Wales because it preserved stories of times when the Welsh were self-governing or rose up against their chains of slavery. This superimposed internal divisions and provided the Welsh with a sense of being more than just a place or culture, as well as a sense of belonging.

  1. Sport, literature, and fireside stories all contributed to bringing a sense of what it meant to be Welsh to life.
  2. Welsh international rugby player Gareth Edwards poses for a photograph during the 1972 Five Nations Championship.
  3. ) Even yet, no matter how much individuals have cared about Wales, the British and English-dominated political, cultural, and economic framework within which modern Wales has lived has always been British and English-dominated.
  4. Their language was despised, patronized, and reviled, but this did not transfer into regulations that were intended to prevent individuals from speaking or feeling Welsh.
  5. Welsh was not designated a mandatory subject in schools until the end of the 1980s, and this was not due to overwhelming popular demand.
  6. (Photo courtesy of Don Dutton/The Toronto Star via Getty Images.) ) This should not be construed as an act of generosity on the part of the government.
  7. A small but effective protest movement also applied pressure to the state, resulting in its recognition of the Welsh language and the Welsh people as a distinct ethnic group.

Wales, on the other hand, has always been on the outskirts of the state.

As social democracy and regional policy began to lose ground beginning in the middle of the 1970s, Wales found itself increasingly vulnerable to the whims of the free market once more.

Those concerns were alleviated by the establishment of a National Assembly, but Brexit has reignited them.

Wales may wither away as a result of the economic, political, and cultural upheaval caused by a combination of Brexit, global warming, and technological advancement.

In addition, given the amount of upheaval and uncertainty currently prevailing in British and worldwide affairs, it is possible that Wales may have a lengthy transition period before achieving its independence.

Martin Johnesis is a Professor of Modern History at Swansea University and the author of England’s Colony?, which was published in 2012. Wales’ conquest, assimilation, and re-creation are all documented (Parthian Books, 2019)

Traditional Welsh Culture

The Welsh are proud of their ability to communicate in Welsh with one another (but in English with us) and to sing Welsh songs; many towns are home to a choir. Raising sheep is a traditional occupation, and you can see the results of your efforts at a woolen mill. On a slate mine tour, you’ll learn about slate mining, which was once a major industry in the area.

Complete Video Script

Watching a metal-thumping recreation will allow you to relive some of the more memorable moments from medieval times. What do you think, Rick? Were the English able to hold the Welsh at bay with all of their great castles? Martin: In a political sense, certainly, but not in a cultural sense. In this country of the Welsh language, we continue to write poetry and sing songs in the language of our ancestors. Rick: So poetry is a huge deal now, isn’t it? Martin: Oh, poetry is enormous. A macho thing to do on a Monday morning is to recite a poem that he has lately written to his coworkers in the office.

Martin: Oh, that’s right.

It’s great because today, if you go to a primary school, a regular state primary school, everything is taught in Welsh.

Rick: So, what is it about the Welsh language that you find so important?

That is to say, the words to describe Wales are only available in Welsh (speaks Welsh).

Martin: It’s a blessing and a luxury to be a Welshman who can communicate in his own language.

Locals communicate with one another in Welsh.

While everything in this place is bilingual.

We’re taking advantage of the freedom our rental car affords us by staying at a Bed & Breakfast in the heart of Wales’ gorgeous countryside.

Sheep may be seen in abundance across Wales, dotting the landscape.

Dogs that have been trained to respond to different whistles are eager to herd the sheep wherever the farmer directs them to go.

And where there are sheep, there are woolen mills, some of which are open to the general public.

A classic spinning wheel will be on display.

The automated loom in this instance reads a pattern and weaves a complex design.

To get a taste of heavier industry, we’ll head to Blaenau Ffestiniog, which is known as the classic Welsh slate-mining town.

Long rows of modest homes, nicknamed “two-up and two-down” for their small rooms, feel desolate because the town’s population today is half that of the town’s heyday as a slate mining destination.

Slate mining had a crucial role in the development of Welsh culture, and the Llechwedd mine is now open to the public.

Visitors board a train that takes them deep into the mountain, where they may hear from a guide about the difficult working conditions and old mining processes.

The deep mine has a maximum depth of 450 feet, however the mine itself is more than 1500 feet below ground.

to 6 p.m., with a half-hour break for lunch, and they’d be required to work six days a week, with Sundays being the only day off allowed.

Our tour comes to a close with a demonstration of slate splitting.

It is still done by hand, as it was 150 years ago, and the process of slate splitting has remained almost unchanged.

Furthermore, for every ton of slate produced by the miners, approximately ten tons of waste was left outside in heaps by the miners.

Despite the fact that the mining culture has all but disappeared, the tradition of singing has survived.

Beautiful music is performed by the men’s choirs of Wales, who are world-renowned. Visitors are invited to attend both their weekly sessions and their many performances by the town choirs. Denbigh’s men’s choir will be performing tonight at the venue. (Singing in a choir.)

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